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Vox Humana

New Bach Edition from Breitkopf

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This looks interesting. It seems that vols 5 and 6 are already available. Has anyone seen them? Any opinions? Will this supersede NBA as the most authoritative edition?

The inclusion of supplementary material on CD-ROM seems an excellent idea.

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This looks interesting. It seems that vols 5 and 6 are already available. Has anyone seen them? Any opinions? Will this supersede NBA as the most authoritative edition?

 

The inclusion of supplementary material on CD-ROM seems an excellent idea.

 

Yes, this looks very interesting indeed. I'm re-learning BWV 552 (P&F in E flat) right now so the fact that Clavierubung part III is one of their first volumes is of particular interest. I must say that the assertion that the low note usually taken by the pedals in the echo sections would more suitably be taken by the manuals makes perfect sense.

 

Happy New Year! How many organists included in the New Years Honours list this time, I wonder?!

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I now have these two volumes and I thought that forum members might be interested to read my take on them.

Bottom line: if you have the NBA, you don't need to rush to buy this new edition.

It's early days, however. The two volumes published so far contain mainly works that exist in authoritative texts (e.g. published by Bach himself) so we should not expect much difference in the actual notes printed and indeed there isn't. The real interest in this respect will come when the new edition gets to the Preludes and Fugues. One reading did surprise me. In Trio Sonata no.6 the new edition prints the opening and the recapitulation of the first movement exactly as in Bach's autograph, complete with the well-known discrepancy between the two at the end of the second phrase. One can see the logic (especially as a footnote is provided), but some might feel this is a cop-out. As Bruno Turner once said to me, "An editor's job is to take decisions!"

So it's all down to layout and presentation.

The volumes are about the same size and thickness as the NBA ones and have thin card covers. These feel cheap and I wonder how durable they will be, but I imagine they will fare no worse than Wiener Urtext covers.

The advertising blurb proudly trumpets "convenient page turns" and this is probably the single consideration that will be of most interest to players. Unfortunately, it is here that the volumes disappoint most. I see no evidence that any experienced player was consulted about the layout. The formatting has every appearance of having been left entirely to Breitkopf's in-house music setters, whose sole criterion seems to have been to minimise the number of page turns by cramming as many notes as possible onto each page. The music is still legible enough, however. This works where it enables whole pieces to be displayed on a single opening, as in all the Schübler Chorales where there is not a single page turn, but in the longer pieces the page turns have seem to have been left to chance. At these points the new edition fares no better than NBA and sometimes worse. Take Trio Sonata no.5. In NBA there are nine page turns, all of which are eminently practical. In the Breitkopf edition there are eight, two of which are not possible without a page turner. The "Giant" fugue is another example. Admittedly there are many pieces where the music simply does not allow a practical solution – the canonic Vater unser, for example – and with this "tight" spacing any further adjustments would risk an uneven appearance between different openings, but one cannot but feel that with a more generous layout, the page turns could have been made genuinely practical a good deal more frequently than is the case here.

Volume 5 comes with a CD of extra trio movements of doubtful authority that are found in late eighteenth- or nineteenth-century sources. These are arrangements from Bach's chamber music; both organ and original versions are given and, with a bit of experimentation, these can be compared side by side. When the CD opens it offers to install itself on your hard disk and it is a good idea to allow it to do this as it seems to be rather temperamental. Another reviewer reported that it opened when he first received it, but would not do so subsequently. I found the opposite; it only opened for me on the second attempt.

The edition prints the critical commentaries only in German, but English translations are downloadable online here:

http://www.breitkopf.com/feature/ausgaben/5561

http://www.breitkopf.com/feature/ausgaben/5562

Given the small number of textual discrepancies, these might be useful to NBA owners as well.

The Introductions available on the same links are also well worth reading by anyone interested in a deeper understanding of the texts. I was particularly interested by Pieter Dirksen's powerful (indisputable?) argument that the solo passages in the C major Vivaldi concerto are to be registered throughout at 4' pitch and that, by extension, the ripieno passages are to be played at no more than 8' pitch. When considered in conjunction with the specification of the Weimar organ, this puts the concertos on an aesthetic par with the sonatas and, once the initial shock is over, it makes a lot of sense.

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Thank you for taking the trouble to do this, Vox.

 

However, for the time being, I shall stick with my tatty Novello editions....

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It is most interesting to read the previous posts concerning a number of points - not just with a new edition.

To me, I have sometimes found fine players playing notes from the page but with little of an ear to the instrument upon which they are playing them. A good instrument will and should suggest what will be an optimum registration for a work - especially Trio Sonatas and The Concertos. To have an edition that says this is perhaps good, but every player must come to their own conclusions. However, if you don't mind me saying so, what seems now to be suggested in the edition for registration is at times what I have found to work on good instruments. But registrations and editors have often in the past been locked into their Age - eg. Guillmant and all the 19th Century French Baroque editions and the older Novello Bach editions (Isn't a Tuba requested in the F Major Toccata?). The Trios can create some surprising registrations if the player doesn't arrive with pre-conceived schemes in their briefcase. For instance, I thought I knew what I would use for No 6 - and programmed it next to other things. When I started to rehearse, it just failed to work and the lines were far too unsubtle. Each stop was ravishing - don't get me wrong - but it took a good 20 minutes to come to the conclusion that the Flute and String stops were all that should be used and then to cap it all, the Tremblant was used throughout all movements. Extraordinary, both in sound and also a proper speed that totally suited. The joy of creating a chamber work and making the instrument not sounding like an organ (many thought there was a real flautist playing), gave me an intense Damascus moment. When we are young we are never very adventurous. When you get to my age, you don't give a damn except to bring the notes alive in the best possible way.

Years ago (from my Novello score!) I was always playing that pedal note in the 'echo' section of the Eb Prelude as a keyboard note - it is totally obvious. The unmusicality of it when it is louder than the previous notes make it a mockery of it being what it is intended to be. I wish players would be courageous and do what their ears tell them. I fear new editions just play upon the fact (unless there are considerable differences or a new set of autographed scores unearthed) that players are entirely locked into the printed page and will do religiously what directions they have just bought (at great cost). The days of the improviser being firstly the keyboard player and then secondly the interpreter of printed works are no more, alas. If they weren't, we would have far more searching and interesting performances both interpretively and registrationally I sometimes ponder.

As for page turning - I create my own scores from cut and pasting onto to B4 or A3 (with the whole cut down to a workable size). It takes time but is hugely rewarding. Even the Trio Sonatas can be done - especially the 6th when you realise that you can do the first movement* (using Novello - the best around for Trio Sonatas by the way) by omitting the first 17 bars! (They are repeated at the end) You begin playing at bar 161 which is on 3rd page on your right and then jump to the beginning of your first page (which is bar 18) which is top left of the first. Then you need be at one with the music and instrument without a page turner or a difficulty for yourself.

Others use pocket scores etc. However, with my terrible eye-sight I must have notes as large as possible so that the score is best of both worlds. I think that is one reason I prefer not to play large instruments where the music desk is too high over a 4th or 5th manual. :unsure:

 

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

 

*Using B4 paper

1st Page = 6 lines (the first having two extra bars included making 11 in all before the 2nd line begins on bar 29. The centre page of the what looks like a Tryptych! has 6 lines and the 3rd page 5 lines.

 

Movt 2 fills two pages with 5 lines on each. No page turns when there are repeats is a great blessing.

 

Movt 3 has 5 pages where the first is like a cover page by itself. It has 4 lines plus a 5th that is bars 19, 20 & 21

Page 2 starts with bar 23 with two bars alone making a little 1st line. Then 3 lines. The opposite page 3 begins with bar 38 and has 4 complete lines - page turning with the left hand on bar 53.

These last two pages before you have 3 lines each so that there is no page turning necessary.

All is easily made into a B4 book with the addition of a joined and folded extra page that is sellotaped onto Page 2 of the first movement and opens out and then folded back again when you turn over to the 2nd Movt.

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I was always playing that pedal note in the 'echo' section of the Eb Prelude as a keyboard note - it is totally obvious. The unmusicality of it when it is louder than the previous notes make it a mockery of it being what it is intended to be. I wish players would be courageous and do what their ears tell them.

 

Thank goodness for that. I do this on the manuals on both occasions (loud and soft). Apart from not wanting to wait for 16' stops to speak, I find that the time it takes to move the hand down the keyboard makes for exactly the right amount of playfulness. I tried to persuade one of my organ scholars (who is now a Dr of Music) of this but he wouldn't have it.

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Thank goodness for that. I do this on the manuals on both occasions (loud and soft). Apart from not wanting to wait for 16' stops to speak, I find that the time it takes to move the hand down the keyboard makes for exactly the right amount of playfulness. I tried to persuade one of my organ scholars (who is now a Dr of Music) of this but he wouldn't have it.

Yes I do too - a David Sanger recommendation and jolly effective.

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Yes I do too - a David Sanger recommendation and jolly effective.

 

So happy to read - but why (I impishly say!) should it have to be recommended to excellent players? It further reinforces my point about players adhering so unutterably to what they have purchased. One of the great challenges has always been with putting Tablature into Universal Notation - and Buxtehude gives us much exercise in this matter. There are whims of the editor in sending to print what they think should be a Pedal line and what should be for the Left Hand. Bar 55 is an example in the famously great G minor Praeludium and Fuga of Buxtehude. Hannsen Edition (edited by Josef Hedar) gives this skitish fagotto bass line to the pedals but in Breickopf (edited by Klaus Beckmann), to the |Left Hand as it is quite simple to play the upper chords with the tight hand. The times I have heard this section mangled because the player has not used common sense in arranging it to suit them and to perform and interpret with confidence. Others prefer to use the pedals but I detect a modicum of showing off with something here! But it is hard to add true Vif using the pedals as the player really ought to hear precisely the speech of the pipes in the Basso and the snappy Dachshund chords.

A further passage that rather hinges on the player perhaps enjoying improvisation more than the written score(!), is the opening of the F# minor Praeludium. This can be taken in all manner of ways and with dynamics too. However, these single lines of certain figurations are born out of improvisatory playing - they are just that, surely. But to me nobody can be serious when they see all this just written in the upper clef as if to be played only with the right hand. From an improviser's point of view (and on any keyboard instrument) I would strongly argue that so much more fantasy can be incorporated into this opening if two hands are used - just as a keyboard player would normally do, I say. Editions printed like this have performers often religiously interpreting it as being just for one hand because that is the editor's way of preparing the edition from the original. If people have the score, try the following fingering (which works on heavy mechanical or extremely light actions as you are able to always give 100% control. In BAR 1 all the lower notes are taken with LH and the upper, with the right. Try either 3 - 1 in the LH or 2 -3, and 2 - 3 in the RH. This makes for brilliant articulation as well as overwhelming control. BAR 2 the LH plays the first note in each group (3rd finger) and the RH (perhaps only with 3 - 1 - 3 or 4 -1 - 4) plays the intervals of 6ths and 5th. This is wonderful to play and within 10 seconds the brain comprehends the harmonic/chordal figuration and there is no need whatsoever after 30 seconds ever to view the score again. You play the whole passage from the spirit in you just like an improviser trying out a keyboard. Honestly!

There are a mountain of such places in music that I can point you to try, but I must go and do the ironing now.

Sorry if all this seems bunkum - but it suits my hands and fingers!

All the best,

N

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So happy to read - but why (I impishly say!) should it have to be recommended to excellent players?

I'm flattered, but, well, I was less than excellent at the time and that's what I paid him for :P More seriously though, it does indeed illustrate your point. The NBA was still fairly new back then and everyone regarded it as Perfection. It was therefore so refreshing to have thinking musician-scholars like dear David suggest alternatives or Peter Hurford point out 'wrong' notes and misprints.

 

It further reinforces my point about players adhering so unutterably to what they have purchased. One of the great challenges has always been with putting Tabluature into Universal Notation - and Buxtehude gives us much exercise in this matter. There are whims of the editor in sending to print what they think should be a Pedal line and what should be for the Left Hand. Bar 55 is an example in the famously great G minor Praeludium and Fuga of Buxtehude. Hannsen Edition (edited by Josef Hedar) gives this skitish fagotto bass line to the pedals but in Breickopf (edited by Klaus Beckmann), to the |Left Hand as it is quite simple to play the upper chords with the tight hand. The times I have heard this section mangled because the player has not used common sense in arranging it to suit them and to perform and interpret with confidence. Others prefer to use the pedals but I detect a modicum of showing off with something here! But it is hard to add true Vif using the pedals as the player really ought to hear precisely the speech of the pipes in the Basso and the snappy Dachshund chords.

A further passage that rather hinges on the player perhaps enjoying improvisation more than the written score(!), is the opening of the F# minor Praeludium. This can be taken in all manner of ways and with dynamics too. However, these single lines of certain figurations are born out of improvisatory playing - they are just that, surely. But to me nobody can be serious when they see all this just written in the upper clef as if to be played only with the right hand. From an improviser's point of view (and on any keyboard instrument) I would strongly argue that so much more fantasy can be incorporated into this opening if two hands are used - just as a keyboard player would normally do, I say. Editions printed like this have performers often religiously interpreting it as being just for one hand because that is the editor's way of preparing the edition from the original. If people have the score, try the following fingering (which works on heavy mechanical or extremely light actions as you are able to always give 100% control. In BAR 1 all the lower notes are taken with LH and the upper, with the right. Try either 3 - 1 in the LH or 2 -3, and 2 - 3 in the RH. This makes for brilliant articulation as well as overwhelming control. BAR 2 the LH plays the first note in each group (3rd finger) and the RH (perhaps only with 3 - 1 - 3 or 4 -1 - 4) plays the intervals of 6ths and 5th. This is wonderful to play and within 10 seconds the brain comprehends the harmonic/chordal figuration and there is no need whatsoever after 30 seconds ever to view the score again. You play the whole passage from the spirit in you just like an improviser trying out a keyboard. Honestly!

There are a mountain of such places in music that I can point you to try, but I must go and do the ironing now.

Sorry if all this seems bunkum - but it suits my hands and fingers!

All the best,

N

 

The famous passage in the G minor I always take with the left hand. Your F# min idea sounds fun and logical. I shall try it! Often so tricky to know how far to go in Buxtehude because of the many editorial decisions taken by those transcribing the tablature. And it's not that so easy to play from the original... :unsure:

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Your F# min idea sounds fun and logical. I shall try it!

 

I meant to add that if you are up to try the 'new' fingering arrangement, it is wise to play from Bar 2 - LH single sixteenth note followed by a chord comprising of both RH notes. This way, one immediately comprehends the harmonic and totally simplistic structure which makes the explosion of an ordinary Tonic chord before the real meat is delivered.

N

 

 

Furthermore, upon reflection, I wish that improvisers would take these written examples of harmony and figuration on board. The times I have endured an organist plonking down a pedal note before rambling on the keyboards. What Buxtehude does in MHO is musically elaborate and tickle the ear that leads us to the first F# in the Pedal. It is the equivalent (to me) of a gentleman of that time entering a room and making a beautiful and courteous gesture of greeting with hat or hand, before uttering a word. But perhaps our modern way is the equivalent of the grunt. There are parallels - of this I am sure.

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The times I have endured an organist plonking down a pedal note before rambling on the keyboards.

Not to mention the person who always begins on a root position tonic chord. I'm perfectly convinced that the only reason I scraped a pass for my effar improvisation was because I began on a first inversion. Heaven knows there wasn't anything else to commend.

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I wish players would be courageous and do what their ears tell them.

Talking of which (and staying with Bach), am I alone in suspecting that in the F major Toccata BWV 540, the inverted mordant in the pedal at bar 336 should really belong in the left hand? It seems obvious musically. I wonder how unambiguous the original (two-stave?) sources are at this point. I will be interested to see whether the new edition has anything to say about this - if I live long enough...

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The parallel, but differently laid out passage at bar 274 has the ornament in both the corresponding parts (and in the part that becomes the pedal later in two following bars).

 

Paul

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With the appearance of the final two volumes, containing the chorale preludes and partitas, the Breitkopf edition is at long last complete. I haven't done a detailed comparison, but I don't think that anyone who has the full, 11-volume Bärenreiter NBA ((i.e. the original 8 volumes + supplements) will find much, if anything, new here other than the chorale fantasia Wo Gott der Herr BWV 1128, which is a fairly recent discovery.

https://www.breitkopf.com/work/8795/complete-organ-works-breitkopf-urtext

Viewing the online versions of the Breitkopf volumes I must say I'm not keen on the layout, in which all the chorales are presented in alphabetical order, irrespective of the authenticity. They inevitably give the impression of a dog's breakfast.  The Bärenreiter volumes, which divide the chorale compositions into (a) those pieces of undoubted or reasonably secure authorship, (b) the Neumeister chorales (whose authorship is still disputed) and (c) the rest, is much neater. 

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I am glad to hear that volumes 9 and 10 are available. Being a fairly new organist, I took the decision to invest in the new edition instead of the NBA as I needed the relevant volumes. I have now collected all of the first 8 and look forward to adding the last two once they reach UK retailers. 

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13 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Viewing the online versions of the Breitkopf volumes I must say I'm not keen on the layout, in which all the chorales are presented in alphabetical order, irrespective of the authenticity. They inevitably give the impression of a dog's breakfast.  The Bärenreiter volumes, which divide the chorale compositions into (a) those pieces of undoubted or reasonably secure authorship, (b) the Neumeister chorales (whose authorship is still disputed) and (c) the rest, is much neater. 

Having had a brief perusal of the introduction to the new volumes, (and kudos to Breitkopf for making them freely available online) I think I can understand the rationale behind the grouping. All the pieces that are deemed by the editors to be authentic are included. Given that only 3 pieces (one of which is a fragment) are relegated to the appendix, and one further available online (the other online items all appear to be alternative versions), this might appear to be a generous assessment of authenticity. As for the Neumeister chorales, it would appear that the decision to include them in with the rest rather than as a separate collection was taken to avoid given the impression that the collection (as opposed to the pieces it contains) is authentic. 

As far as the NBA is concernced, part of the reason the Neumeister chorales were published separately was they were not yet discovered when the series was begun. 

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Yes, this is quite true. If I understand events correctly (but, as ever, I'm open to correction), vols 1-8 of the Bärenreiter edition were a practical edition of the organ works included the NBA and the three subsequent volumes were to all intents and purposes afterthoughts, partly in order to present organists with reliable versions of pieces that had been included in previous editions and pieces whose authorship had been reassessed and, in the case of the Neumeister chorales because they were a later "discovery" (as you say) - although I remember reading a comment somewhere to the effect that several Bach scholars claimed to be aware of the Neumeister chorales before Wilhelm Krumbach began to perform them, but had not seriously considered them authentic. Thus the happy compartmentalisation of these pieces came about by accident rather than design.

With the latest Breitkopf volumes I just wonder whether less critical players, who don't read beyond the dots on the page,  might uncritically accept as authentic pieces whose authorship is rather doubtful - but I guess no edition has been free of that danger.

It seems, from the online blurb, that with these last two volumes Breitkopf has abandoned the practice of including variant versions and dubious pieces on CD in favour of presenting them online instead. The CDs were nothing if not temperamental, at least in my DVD drive, but they enabled me to store all the files  on my hard drive where they are very convenient to consult or print. I would be sorry if Breitkopf have not seen this policy through to the end. In any event, it is good that all this supplementary information is being made available online as well, effectively making the pdf files freely downloadable. For those who have not yet investigated these I would particularly commend the doubtful trio arrangements for vol. 5. It took me a little while to suss how the EdiromOnline pages work. Basically, locate the volume number in the grey pull-down menu in the top left-hand corner and the individual pieces from the pull-down menu just to the right of that: https://www.breitkopf.com/bach-edirom/

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12 minutes ago, Vox Humana said:

It seems, from the online blurb, that with these last two volumes Breitkopf has abandoned the practice of including variant versions and dubious pieces on CD in favour of presenting them online instead. 

This is also, it would seem, true for reprintings of the earlier volumes. The most recent volume I bought was volume 4, and it came without a CD and a little note informing the reader that as from 2018, the contents of the CDs would be available online instead. While it is good that this material is available freely online, it is, as you say, useful to have it on your hard drive. 

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1 minute ago, David Surtees said:

This is also, it would seem, true for reprintings of the earlier volumes. The most recent volume I bought was volume 4, and it came without a CD and a little note informing the reader that as from 2018, the contents of the CDs would be available online instead. While it is good that this material is available freely online, it is, as you say, useful to have it on your hard drive. 

Ah, thank you. I did wonder whether this was the case.

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On 12/06/2011 at 21:49, Vox Humana said:

Talking of which (and staying with Bach), am I alone in suspecting that in the F major Toccata BWV 540, the inverted mordant in the pedal at bar 336 should really belong in the left hand? It seems obvious musically. I wonder how unambiguous the original (two-stave?) sources are at this point. I will be interested to see whether the new edition has anything to say about this - if I live long enough...

Just for the record, the Breitkopf edition does indeed allocate the inverted mordant to the left hand.

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On 19/07/2018 at 08:32, Vox Humana said:

For those who have not yet investigated these I would particularly commend the doubtful trio arrangements for vol. 5. It took me a little while to suss how the EdiromOnline pages work. Basically, locate the volume number in the grey pull-down menu in the top left-hand corner and the individual pieces from the pull-down menu just to the right of that: https://www.breitkopf.com/bach-edirom/

You can change the interface language to English by clicking where the flag and the words "Sprache auf Englisch umschaltung" are in the right hand side menu.. Back in the days when I was involved in software development, I pushed for options like this to be in the target language. Always made much more sense to me.

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It's mildly irritating that they changed the volume livery for these final ones, so that people who have been collecting the series as they came out end up with a couple of non-matching volumes; a small matter, but...

Paul

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It 

On 28/07/2018 at 20:44, pwhodges said:

It's mildly irritating that they changed the volume livery for these final ones, so that people who have been collecting the series as they came out end up with a couple of non-matching volumes; a small matter, but...

Paul

This seems to be the way with the publication of Bach's organ music. Novello could never decide what colour green their volumes were meant to be and my more recent NBA volumes are a different size to the ones I bought some years ago.

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